I'll attempt to make the argument here that what the world needs more than ever are good WWII scenarios to game, rather than another set of WWII rules.
I've been on the hunt lately for historical scenarios that I can use for Flames of War battles (or that I can shoe-horn for other rules), maybe with the aim of putting on a good convention game.
I like Flames of War alot for what it delivers. What I do not like are the stylized, tournament styled scenarios in the rules, preferring historical scenarios using the Flames of War rules. (and there ways to reconcile both, IE finding similar situations to the tournament scenarios from a historical battle and selecting similar forces - more on that another time).
The Battlefront website has a big collection of great historical scenarios but for this post, I'll explore another resource I tried out that I completely forgot about - the Skirmish Campaigns series. Following the advice of world-class gaming hero Paul OG, many years ago I purchased "GrossDeutschland at Kursk" and "Red Guards at Kursk" Skirmish Campaigns books for use in developing Battlegroup: Kursk games. I've been down this road before, and if you've been reading the blog long enough (11 years going) you might remember this post with Battlegroup: Kursk and a 15mm skirmish action.
I had an idea about using the scenarios from the Skirmish Campaigns books for use in Flames of War or Crossfire (or Battlegroup) battles enabling me to put a historical challenge on the table. This post is about the planning and playtest for Scenario 1 in "Red Guards at Kursk" aptly named "Red Recon" and puts us at the jump-off point of Operation Kutuzov on 11 July 1943.
On the 11th of July 1943, the Soviet forces task organized under "Operation Kutuzov" began "small scale" attacks in preparation for the opening of the Soviet counter-offensive at Kursk on 12 July The scenario pits a Soviet platoon against a dug-in understrength German platoon to capture multiple buildings at a crossroads or destroy the radio. Clearly we're aiming for bigger games than that, but what about using the OOB in Skirmish Campaigns and "scaling up" - meaning a squad is a platoon or company? That's exactly what I did. Instead of destroying the radio, Soviets had to destroy the Command Post with the Grenadier Company HQs, which also houses the radio.
|Soviets starting from the top (north) and must destroy the CP or capture all buildings. Germans are in 2 successive trenchlines in the center.
The Soviets, which are elements of 26th Guards Rifle Division, 8th Guards Rifle Corps fielded a Battalion HQs, "Hero Rifle Company of 10 stands, a "Storm Group" of 5 SMG stands, ATR, 2 x HMGs, and a flame thrower, and, my favorite, a Soviet Scout platoon of 7 x stands (their first time in combat since they were painted). Combined total points are 35.
|Entire Soviet force - Company, Scouts, and "Storm Group" - all from the "Enemy at the Gates" book
The Germans, which are elements of 306th Infantry Regiment, 211th Infantry Division, consist of a Grenadier Company Headquarters, 2 x full strength Grenadier Platoons with HMG attachments, and a sniper. Combined points are 35.
|2 x full Grenadier platoons in "trenches" - I need to build some trenches. The CP is in one of the houses but the Soviets won't know which. I diced for this after the first turn.
I think the points will get us into trouble in a bit and that harkens an entirely new debate but for now let's talk about the playtest of the scenario. The Soviets must 1. locate and destroy the command post OR 2. capture all buildings. The Germans must avoid this. 6 full turns, then each turn after 6 we will roll to end the game. If on turn 7 a "1" is rolled, the game ends. On turn 8 a "1" or a "2" is rolled, etc.
I did use the special "Spearhead" rule for the Scouts and they get a free 12" move to expand the Soviet deployment area (which I did NOT take advantage of)
|Hero Rifle Company at the start line
|Soviet scouts skulk their way up to the their "Spearhead" start line +12"
|Im immensely proud of my Soviet Scouts and was looking forward to getting them on the table. Forward you scum! This is our first battle on the table! We'd better not die!
|Picking their way through the forest, Soviet infantry know what's up ahead...
|note the rifle company and "Storm Group's" advance on the left and the scouts all tucked in cozy next to the woods on the right. The Soviet company on the left will approach the 2" line for Line of Sight and will be targeted by German HMGs...
|Soviet Rifles pinned!
|Meanwhile on the right, Soviet scouts reach the far edge of the woodline and spot the houses on the Ulianovo road. The "maskirovka is working" as the Hero rifle company is engaged, the scouts slip past the first trenchline towards the houses...
|Soviet scouts eyeing the terrain before them.
|German HMGs in the trenchline
|War weary Landsers await the attack with dread.
On turn 3 the Soviets unpin and make for the treeline. The plan is to keep the first trenchline engaged while the storm group races forward to engage the right side of the second trenchline. It's all a diversion so the scouts can assault the buildings.
|Soviet scouts burst from the treeline on the right to assault the building. Just one problem - it's a bunker...
|By luck of the die roll, the house closest to you houses the German CP (and radio) ....and is a bunker.
|Turn 3 Soviet rifles unpin and make for the treeline to engage the Germans in the first trench, holding them up. There are 3 HMGs targeting the trenchline now but it's not able to pin the Germans.
|Any man not shooting, will be himself shot!
|Scouts in the trenchline! NExt turn they will assault the bunker (lower right)
|German turn 4 maneuvering against the Scouts in the trenchline. It's a nasty fight with grenades, entrenching tools, pistols, machine pistols, bayonets, and fists.
The next turn, the Soviets assault the bunker/CP and knock both teams out! THe Scouts have eliminated the Command Post (a very Soviet scout task) but the game isn't over yet. The German grenadiers mass to counter-attack the Scouts in the trench and in the bunker - but the bunker has new owners.
|Soviets fending off attack after attack in the trenchline
|storm group in upper right is pinned! you dont want those guys anywhere near your defense
|One man to hold down the entire flank?
You CAN use Skirmish Campaigns for historical Flames of War battles but you have to consider all of the advantages and disadvantages each force has, as well as the advantages bestowed by terrain or fortifications. In this instance, the trenchline makes the Germans extremely hard to kill, with hits occurring on a "6" and "gone to ground" status in effect even when they move in the trench! If you thought the bunker was a tough nut to crack, welcome to the joys of trench warfare.